GAME PLAN: And now, back to cricket…

Jaideep Ghosh

Rio de Janeiro: PV Sindhu celebrate after defeating Japan's Nozomi Okuhara during a women's singles semifinal match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 18, 2016. Photo - PTI

Rio de Janeiro: PV Sindhu celebrate after defeating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara during a women’s singles semifinal match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 18, 2016.
Photo – PTI

The sum of all that we learned from Rio de Janeiro and India’s misadventure there was two-fold. One, that we are easily satisfied. For the other, we fete not being the best like there will be no tomorrow.

Look at the millions being showered on P.V. Sindhu and Sakshi Malik. Silver and bronze are good enough!

Plus, getting into the final is good enough for a Khel Ratna too. Or, like Sakshi, even that is not needed.

I know. It is sacrilegious to denigrate not just their achievements but also the completely insane reaction all around as everyone wants to plough onto the bandwagon to show what great supporters of Indian sport they are.

These are people who do not know if Sindhu is from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana or Karnataka. They also don’t know Dipa is Karmakar and not Karmarkar. They would struggle to point out Tripura on the map. They also think Sindhu needs a better coach!

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Rio de Janeiro : India’s Dipa Karmakar Participates in the vault during the artistic gymnastics women’s final at the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, August 14, 2016. Photo – PTI

The girls did phenomenally well to get where they did, make no mistake. Their achievements are made that much more notable because of the complete mess that sports administration and mediocre colleagues.

We hear medal winners in China were sent to interact with schoolchildren and share their experiences. No such luxuries here. Our children have to study for the UPSC exams and such like, after all.

Our athletes were sent to collect millions from various people who were suddenly much into sports and model in front of luxury cars, which I can bet my pension some of them can’t drive yet.
Then we celebrated another great victory – a bronze that turned to silver for Yogeshwar Dutt from way back in 2012.

Could life be any better?

It was quite interesting to see Dutt rather mystified about the whole affair while there were so many hopping around like over-excited lemmings about one more not-quite-gold. Then the wrestler decided that he’d rather have the dead Russian wrestler Besik Kudukhov’s family keep the silver medal, on humanitarian grounds.

India's Sakshi Malik poses with her bronze medal for the women's wrestling freestyle 58-kg competition during the medals ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday. Photo-PTI

India’s Sakshi Malik poses with her bronze medal for the women’s wrestling freestyle 58-kg competition during the medals ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday.
Photo-PTI

That, in my humble opinion, is one of the most notable moves ever made by any Indian athlete, in any sport. Our sportspersons are not particularly known for handing any accolades that come their way, through any means.

So Dutt now become one of very few Indian athletes who have actually done something that should get him a gold medal, for being the way he is, if nothing else.

But elsewhere, we are back to doing what we do best – watch cricket.

Well, maybe ‘watch’ wouldn’t be the right word, if we are to talk about the blink-and-you-will-miss two-math T20 series against the West Indies.

The first one was unreal. The West Indies scored 245, India scored one less, which was quite the shame, since losing by 50 runs would have been more understandable. Then, the next one was rained out, since there were no super soppers or the usual gizmos we relate to cricket.

But then, this was in the US, the new frontier where the beleaguered Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) can spread its wings, now that they are under so much scrutiny and censure back home.
Money won’t be a problem. For the ridiculously rich and totally non-discerning Indian diasporas in the US, anything akin to a game of cricket will do. Till such time when they get discerning.

There were other ridiculous things too, in the field of cricket.

Cricket-Rohit-SharmaEngland scored 444 against Pakistan, who had not so far back ascended to the top of the world in terms of Test credentials, just when the West Indies were denying India the very same.

Another significant change was the way the broadcasters changed their skin.

From shovelling overbearing promos about how India would destroy the world in the Olympics, to focussing rapidly on the few successes, then promoting state-level cricket premier leagues and those whistle-stop trips to the Wild West, the entire gamut was a canvas of what sports are in India. So instead of re-runs of selected Indian wins, we now have cricket, cricket and more cricket.

This also decides one more thing. When it comes to sport, the rest will always be also-rans to cricket, an argument that was well and truly settled in Rio de Janeiro.

So now the guns have fallen silent on the Olympic front. Even the accolades are not going silent as we get back to what we do best – not discuss or play sports till the next time.

We are not a great sporting nation, we will never be. We may have some successes in professional events like tennis, some wins for our hockey team, which was definitely looking better in Rio. Plus, we will have wins in cricket, for sure. Irrespective of what your grouse may be, there is now no longer any contest. Cricket rules in India.

That’s how it will be. Till we hyperventilate about Tokyo in four years’ time.